Chinuk-wawa in education: The solar system

Chinuk-wawa was used to educate people about science, social studies and more — over 100 years before the revitalization and immersion program at Grand Ronde.

In his Kamloops Wawa newspaper, Father Le Jeune himself didn’t make too much effort to teach such information; he was caught up with plenty of missionary work, as well as teaching hundreds of Aboriginal people to write and read, with his Chinuk pipa shorthand.

But Le Jeune found the enthusiastic work of Thomas Sanderson Bulmer, MD, useful, and lucky for us.

Essentially all of Bulmer’s legacy went missing when the man himself wandered off into the Texas-Mexico desert to commit suicide. A shame this, since James Constantine Pilling’s 1893 Smithsonian bibliography of Chinookan testifies that Bulmer created volumes of material in the Jargon, specifically to educate Indians.

Kamloops Wawa‘s publishing of excerpts from manuscripts that Bulmer had sent Le Jeune’s way accidentally preserved nearly all that we have of TSB’s Chinooking. Not all of Bulmer’s stuff in KW is attributed, by the way, but it’s still identifiable from its subject matter and from various idiosyncrasies of word choice, spelling, and stuff.

And Bulmer’s educational materials are good. I feel they present substantial information in a clear, concise use of Chinook Jargon. They may be a guide for us modern folks as we revitalize this language and bring it ever more into the mainstream of our educational system.

Judge for yourself:– from issue #84 of Kamloops Wawa (25 June 1893, pages 102-104) –:

sun moon and planets beginning (2)

<Sun, moon & planets. 1o The Sun.>

Ukuk son iaka patlash lait kopa nsaika pi iaka mamuk wam nsaika
iaka <92> milion mails saia kopa iakwa. Iaka <1 250 000>
taims ilip aias kopa ukuk ilihi. Spos nsaika ilihi aias
kakwa tanas apil, kakwa ig, son iaka kakwa <60> tons ukuk apils

“This sun that gives light to us and warms us
is 92 million miles away from here. It is 1,250,000
times bigger than this earth. If our earth was as big
as a small apple, like an egg, the sun [would] be like 60 tons of those apples.”

<2o Mercury. 35> milion mails kopa son mitlait Mirkyuri

“2nd. Mercury. 35 million miles from the sun is Mercury[…]”

Page 103

sun moon and planets middle (2)

[…]iaka < 3 000> mails waid, kakwa <9 000> mails rawn.
Mirkyuri kakwa <1> pi ukuk ilihi kakwa <20>.

“[…] which is 3,000 miles wide, about 9,000 miles around.
Mercury is like 1 and this earth is like 20 [of them].”

<3o Venus.> Vinyus iaka <66> milian mails saia kopa
son; iaka <7 500> mails waid, <22 500> mails rawn, wik
saia kakwa ukuk ilihi iaka aias.

“3rd. Venus. Venus is 66 million miles away from
the sun; it is 7,500 miles wide, 22,500 miles around,
almost like this earth in size.”

<4o The Earth.> Ukuk ilihi iaka <92> milian mails
saia kopa son. Iaka <8 000> mails waid <25 000>
mails rawn. Kopa iht son iaka tyurn kakwa hwil kopa iaka
pols [SIC?]. = Kopa iht sno, iaka klatwa rawn kopa son.

“4th. The Earth. This earth is 92 million miles
away from the sun. It is 8,000 miles wide[,] 25,000
miles around. In one day it turns like a wheel on its
polls [SIC? can anyone help decipher this word?]. = In a year, it goes around the sun.”

<The Moon.> Mun iaka kwanisim kanamokst ukuk ilihi.
Iaka iskom lait kopa son pi patlash [NULL] kopa ukuk ilihi. Iaka
<238 000> mails saia kopa ukuk ilihi. Iaka <2 160>
mails waid.

“The Moon. The moon keeps together with this earth.
It gets light from the sun and gives it to this earth. It
is 238,000 miles away from this earth. It is 2,160
miles wide.”

<5o Mars.> Mars iaka <140> milian mails saia kopa
son. Iaka wik saia <5 000> mails waid. Pus
Mars kakwa <1> ilihi iaka kakwa <4>.

“5th Mars. Mars is 140 million miles away from the
sun. It is almost 5,000 miles wide. If
Mars is like 1[,] the earth is like 4 of them.”

<6o Ceres, etc.> Ilip saia kopa Mars mitlait
ayu tanas planits, kakwa ukuk ilihi, pi tanas, klunas
klaska kwanisim ankati kakwa, klunas iht aias planit
iaka kakshit pi shako ayu tanas.

“6th Ceres, etc. Farther than Mars are
many small planets, like this earth, but little, possibly
they have always been like that, possibly a large planet
broke up and became many little ones.”

<7o Jupiter. 475> milian mails kopa son mitlait
Shupitir. = Iaka <88 000> mails waid. = Iaka <1400>
taims aias kakwa ukuk ilihi. Iaka mitlait <4> tanas muns.
Kanawi ukuk muns klaska ilip aias kopa nsaika mun.

“7th Jupiter. 475 million miles from the sun is
Jupiter. = It is 88,000 miles wide. = It is 1,400
times bigger than this earth. It has 4 small moons.
All of these moons are bigger than our moon.”

<8o> Satirn <Saturn. 872> milian mails
kopa son mitlait Satirn iaka <72 000> mails aias
iaka <750> taims kakwa ukuk ilihi. Iaka mitlait <8> muns
pi iht aias ring pus iskom lait kopa son.

“8th Saturn. 872 million miles
from the sun is Saturn, which is 72,000 miles in size[;]
it is 750 times [bigger] than this earth. It has 8 moons
and a big ring to catch light from the sun.”

Page 104

sun moon and planets end (2)

<9o Uranus. 1754> milian mails kopa son
mitlait iht ilihi, planit, iaka nim Uranos. Iaka
<33 000> mails aias. = Iaka wik saia <100> taims aias
kakwa ukuk ilihi, pi iaka mitlait <4> mun.

“9th Uranus. 1,754 million miles from the sun is a place, a planet, called Uranus. It
is 33,000 miles in size. = It is almost 100 times as big
as this earth, and it has 4 moons.”

<10o Neptune. 2 750> [SIC] mails kopa son mitlait
Niptun, iaka <37 000> mails aias, <100> taims ilip aias
kopa ukuk ilihi. Iaka mitlait iht mun kakwa nsaika.

“10th Neptune. 2,750 [SIC] miles from the sun is
Neptune, which is 37,000 miles in size, 100 times bigger
than this earth. It has one moon, like us.”